Monday, March 23, 2015

New Olympia SM-9

UPDATE: Now, this is embarrassing. I didn't even know there was a cheaper sister to the SM-9; the SM-8. I was corrected in the comments by impressionofinfinity. I checked the TWDB and sure enough, there is the SM-8. I should have done my homework. I have corrected the post where possible, but kept the original mistake.

In case you don't know Tim is from Georgia (not Alabama as I indicated previously) and he has been on the quest for the perfect user's typewriter. He's not looking to build a collection. To borrow from the world of animal adoptions, he is looking for a forever typewriter. Due to his immense generosity and kindness, whatever does not meet his expectations has found it's way here to the CTP. Most recently it's this lovely Olympia SM-9 SM-8 from 1974 or '75:

As I sat down to do this typecast, I really got into the feel of this typewriter. I haven't been sold on Olympias before. Even my favorite SG-1 sometimes feels stiff and heavy. This one couldn't be any more different. The platen is still soft and it makes for the perfect typing experience. I have to say I love it. It's a little tinny, but very solid in key feel. My personal opinion on the styling is a little more harsh.

The SG-1 is a fine precision instrument. Even the more worn-in SM-9 (another donation not from Tim)  is still very high quality. It feels as if some areas of quality were compromised in the name of profitability. Some of the metal is a little thinner. The finish isn't as fine. The fit is very good, but not as precise.

My reservations are a collector's reservations. If you are a young typist and are looking for a forever machine, this little guy might be the ticket. I already have some kids looking at this one.


  1. What you have there is an SM-8 and as far as I know there's no touch regulator on that model. My SM-8 from 1972 doesn't have it.

    The SM-8/9 would definitely be my recommendation for that "one" portable machine.

    In my very limited experience, I find the 1970s iteration of these machines have a nicer, smoother, touch to them than their 1960s counterparts. I think they could have changed the material of their platens... I don't know, but they did *something* to make these machines feel nicer to use. Again, only in my limited experience.

    1. Thanks for the info. I, as you can tell, am not an Olympia expert.

  2. If any machine can last a life time I think any of the Olympais will. Unfortunately I find them all disappointing in their slowness and lack of good touch even though they are surprisingly excellently engineered and built.

    1. I don;t disagree with you there. Give me a mid-century Royal desktop any day.